We do not shy away from difficulties, but we look for means to turn them into opportunities.
Dear Fellow Stakeholders
2021 was another year of hard work, dedication and agility by Minor team members amid prolonged COVID-19 uncertainty. At its onset, there was no clarity as to when or how quickly economies would rebound. Therefore, we focused on shoring up our operational and financial strengths to ensure a quick turnaround once external conditions allowed. As the year progressed, vaccination rates accelerated, and countries began to reopen, prompting increased economic activities and recovery of the tourism industry in many geographies, notably Europe. Looking ahead, although there continue to be headwinds, I believe that our diversified portfolio and proven platform will help us to excel. Therefore, we are already looking pass the recovery and gearing up for the post-COVID-19 world.
During 2021, we made further improvements to our operational platform. Minor Hotels took a major part in the launch of the new Discovery Loyalty Program, with over 500 participating hotels across 85+ countries. Furthermore, Minor Hotels opened 5 hotels, among them was NH Collection Copenhagen, our first hotel in the Nordic countries. We continued to strengthen our Anantara portfolio in Europe, with the launch of Anantara Palazzo Naiadi Rome Hotel and Anantara New York Palace Budapest Hotel, and the announcement of the rebranding of Anantara Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky Amsterdam, the first Anantara hotels in those respective cities and countries. We also took a significant step in expanding our presence in China, through the strategic partnership with China’s Funyard Hotels & Resorts. The partnership will oversee business development, hotel operations, as well as sales and marketing functions of 7 Minor Hotels brands in China. Funyard manages more than 200 upscale hotels and about 50,000 guestrooms in China today.
As for Minor Food, besides progress in improving customer experience at dine-in restaurants and cost controls, delivery was a major focus. With the growth potential of the food delivery market, Minor Food continued to develop its own 1112 Delivery delivery platform. In addition to ensuring a seamless experience for customers, Minor Food launched digital loyalty programs across brands, and leveraged on data management capabilities. With our continued effort, The Pizza Company’s loyalty program reached 1 million members, while 1112 Delivery application reached over 2 million downloads. Our delivery sales grew by 14% in 2021 from prior year.
Financially, we made strides in strengthening our balance sheet. We improved our debt profile with the maturity extension of our loans and bonds. We further solidified our equity base with the refinancing of perpetual bonds, issuance of additional warrants, and land revaluation uplift. We also reinforced our credit status by maintaining a rating of A by TRIS Rating. Furthermore, we successfully executed 3 asset rotation transactions, all of which enhanced our liquidity position and allowed us to deleverage to below our debt covenant level by the end of 2021.
Looking ahead, challenges remain. But what we do know is that once recovery starts, it will be quick. We have experienced this in the past in parts of our portfolio. Minor Food’s China hub was the first to be hit by the pandemic in January 2020, but was also the first to experience quick recovery from mid-2020, with business activities already exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels by the beginning of 2021. The performance of Maldives hotels also rebounded strongly and quickly surpassed pre-COVID-19 levels in less than a year. The operations of Oaks in Australia surged with RevPar returning to 2019 levels in the second quarter of 2021 once inter-state borders reopened. Europe also saw quick recovery upon accelerated vaccination rates and border re-openings. Although the pandemic continues to present new challenges, as evidenced with the Delta and Omicron variants, we are confident that we have the foundation to face them head on.
Lastly, we are proud to have maintained our sustainability standards despite competing priorities. This year, we remained in the Dow Jones Sustainability Emerging Markets Index, the FTSE4Good Emerging Index, and Thailand Sustainability Investment (THSI) by the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET). We received a MSCI ESG rating of AA and were also recognized as Highly Commended in Sustainability Awards 2021, in the Sustainability Excellence category from SET for Thai-listed companies with market capitalization of over Baht 100,000 million. Moreover, we received “Excellent” CG scoring (5-star) by the Thai Institute of Directors Association (IOD) for the 9th consecutive year.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our stakeholders for their continued support and trust in the company and management. My heartfelt appreciation also extends to our people for their dedication and perseverance, for outlasting such a challenging time and helping us emerge from it an even better, leaner and stronger company. I am very excited for a promising 2022. There will be more challenges and uncertainties, but we have passed the worst, and are now working toward a profitable 2022.
William Ellwood Heinecke
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